Held at Christie’s (25/20/13.5% buyer’s premium), it presented almost an embarrassment of riches, and around 40% of the 203 lots failed to sell – but the focus here is on just one of the many rare lots that attracted strong bidding.
Speculum orbis terrae, first published in Oberursel, near Frankfurt, in 1602, is a posthumously issued collection of the map collections previously produced by Johannes Metellus, or Jean Matal (c.1517-97).
An exceptional rarity, this was a lot for which Christie’s could find no other auction record or appearance in the trade.
Each of the component parts are rare in their own right but here, bound together in contemporary calf, was a full set of the Europa, Asia, Africa, Island and America parts, complete with all 261 engraved maps on double-page sheets with text to verso and in a few instances coloured.
A work known to have been consulted by Walter Raleigh and some of his contemporaries, this set also shows evidence of having been owned and/or annotated by someone with a good knowledge of advances in contemporary cartographic knowledge.
This complete set includes a number of extremely rare and important American maps, among them the one reproduced above which is known only from three other examples that are held in German libraries.
Speculum orbis terrae had a high estimate of £150,000 but was bid even higher, selling at £240,000.